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Judge won’t stop pro-Palestinian protests at synagogue

Scales of Justice photo

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop pro-Palestinian protests outside a synagogue in one of Michigan’s most liberal cities.

The protests, with signs that say “Jewish Power Corrupts” and “Resist Jewish Power,” have occurred for nearly 20 years during Sabbath services at Beth Israel Synagogue in Ann Arbor.

Some members said their right to worship has been violated by offensive signs that cause emotional distress. But U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the protests are protected by the First Amendment.

“There is no allegation that the protesters prevent plaintiffs from attending Sabbath services, that they block plaintiffs’ path onto the property or to the synagogue, or that the protests and signs outside affect the services inside,” Roberts said Wednesday.

Peaceful protests are “entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive and causes emotional distress,” the judge said.

Ziporah Reich, co-counsel for synagogue members, said a request for reconsideration is planned.

“The court is effectively saying that the emotional distress experienced by Jews in reaction to the anti-Semitic slurs hurled at them every week for 16 years in front of their house of worship, is insufficient injury to grant them access to federal court,” Reich said.